Upset Alert

Posted in Football at 11:17 am by

Everton 1, Chelsea 0 (HT)

James Bettie scored on a 37th minute penalty for the hosts after Tim Cahill was taken down in the box by Chelsea’s Shaun Wright-Philips. If Everton can protect their lead for another 45 minutes, this’ll be the shocker of the autumn at the very least, the two clubs being seperated by a staggering 24 points and 19 places in the Premeirship.

(UPDATE : Never mind. )

With the scintillating potential of the Kettering v. Stevenage tie sure to inspire convulsions, your FA Cup First Round Draw can be found here.

(Mark Lisi, Clint Dempsey, and a lot of empty seats)

Congrats to the NY/NJ MetroStars on their 1-0 defeat of top-seeded New England in their MLS Playoff opener at a hashmark covered Giants Stadium last night. A Gridiron layout on the pitch, Jim Rome’s favored whipping boy Tony Meola getting a clean sheet and the league’s post-season timed pefectly to coincide with the first game of the World Series ; in terms of quality of play, the MLS has come a long way in 10 years, but some things never seem to change.

Glauber : Capers Is Doomed

Posted in Gridiron at 2:10 am by

From Newsday’s Bob Glauber :

Barring a stunning turnaround, Texans coach Dom Capers will be fired at the end of the season. The bigger issue is what happens to general manager Charley Casserly. At this point, Casserly appears safe, which means he’ll be able to make the next coaching hire. But if the bottom continues to fall out, team owner Robert McNair may decide to make a clean sweep . . . If Casserly stays and the Texans wind up with the first overall draft pick, it’s believed Casserly would deal the choice to a team that is interested in USC quarterback Matt Leinart, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft. Casserly is convinced David Carr isn’t the problem with the Texans’ offense.

Indeed, it might be interesting to see what Carr can accomplish without spending an entire afternoon on his back.

I’m still trying to figure out how it is that the usually reliable INT-machine Jake Plummer has been playing relatively mistake free QB for Denver thus far. I’ve not signed the online petition yet demanding that Plummer grow back his mustache because I think the whole subject is terribly childish.

Well, that, and I was already working on one to get Lt. Dangle to shave his.

Advice For The NCAA :

Posted in Gridiron at 12:53 am by

The University Of Minnesota-Morris can play all of their 2006 home games in an empty stadium.

World Series Game 1 : Rocket Pulls Up Lame, Jenks Saves The Game

Posted in Baseball at 12:26 am by

White Sox 5, Astros 3

Though I’m sure most of you are embroiled in that most obvious of post-game debates —- whose performance was more inspiring, Josh Grobhan or Liz Phair? —- I’m still trying to determine who seemed more overmatched, the ailing Roger Clemens (above) or the debutante DH, Jeff Bagwell.

Much as I hate to bring it up at a time like this, the Astros have devoted nearly a quarter of their 2005 payroll to the 43 year old Clemens, and anything short of a World Series victory makes that a questionable decision. Though it is doubtful that Clemens will receive the kind of treatment afforded to other prominent post-season hurlers who would’ve been better off in bed (David Wells, Kevin Brown, Bartolo Colon), this shouldn’t have been Wandy Rodriguez’ game to win or lose.

Until two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have picked Joe Crede as the most dangerous no. 8 hitter in the game. The Chicago 3B could’ve been a viable alternative to Paul Konerko as ALCS MVP, and he’s got a heck of a head start on the silverware for this series.

If Bobby Jenks’ showing tonight is any indication, the big lug is suffering no ill effects from a 15 day rest. The dominant performance of the White Sox starting rotation versus the Angels, coupled with Jenks’ ferocious two innings in Game One , should rightfully wipe out any remaining shred of optimism on the Astros’ part (at least as much as the loss of Clemens).

A couple of acquaintences have asked how I can really look forward to a World Series in which I have no real rooting interest. To which I can only answer, when my chosen team is busy playing golf, sudoku or Rockstar Games’ “The Warriors” this week, I’ve got to celebrate little victories where I can find them. For instance, the same way tonight’s final out brought joy to the hearts of long suffering White Sox fans, I had to settle for the words “Lou Piniella could not be with us tonight.”

That said, I have come up with at least one compelling reason to root against the Astros : if Chicago wins, there’s an even smaller playoff share for John Franco.


Charles Rocket

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 11:36 pm by

It wasn’t until a few minutes after seeing Franz Ferdinand on Saturday Night Live this evening that I learned of Charles Rocket’s suicide.

Rocket, 56, had a number of TV and film credits to speak of, but he’s probably best known for having been fired by SNL after saying “fuck” on the air in 1981. I’ve always associated him with some of the show’s weakest moments (and if you’ve been watching since inception, that’s really saying something).

Anyhow, the purpose of this post isn’t to further disparage a dead guy, but rather to point out that very often, there’s far more to someone’s personal and artistic background than we’re aware of. Rocket is eulogized in this week’s Providence Journal, and if his SNL tenure and the odd cameo on “Moonlighting” are all you’re familiar with (as I was), you oughta check it out.

Foggy Notion : Valentine’s Marines Take 1-0 Lead

Posted in Baseball at 7:25 pm by

While ESPN is reporting that Bobby Valentine (above) has ruled himself out of consideration for the Los Angeles and Tampa Bay managerial openings, Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines have won the first game of the 2005 Japan Series under unusual circumstances. From the Yomiuri Times’ Jim Allen.

Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher Naoyuki Shimizu put the Hanshin Tigers in a fog, and a pea soup coming off Tokyo Bay put the Marines in the win column on Saturday in Game 1 of the Japan Series.

In the first game in Series history to be called because of fog, Shimizu went the distance as the Pacific League champs beat the Central League pennant winners 10-1 in seven innings at Chiba Marine Stadium.

“I have never seen a fog out,” Marines manager Bobby Valentine said. “I have seen snow outs and once in the minors we had a [game called because of a] sand storm.”

The Marines banged out four homers, including shots by Tomoya Satozaki and Benny Agbayani in the seventh inning, just before umpires cleared the field. After a 34-minute delay, the umpires called the game.

The weather came too late to save the Tigers from Shimizu and 22-year-old Marines star Toshiaki Imae, who had four hits including a first-inning homer and twice drove in runs that put his team in front.

Shimizu walked the first man he faced to start the game but escaped the first inning unscored upon. He allowed a run on five hits, while striking out six.

“He pitched like the champion he is,” Valentine said. “He had some runners on base and had to make some great pitches and he did.”

World Series Game One – Fox’s Pregame Intro

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 7:00 pm by

I once remarked that it wasn’t until I saw the motion picture “Armageddon” that I fully understood the meaning of the expression “an insult to one’s intelligence.”

I would like to revise this claim.

It wasn’t until I watched Fox’s brutal opening vingette to this evening’s broadcast — essentially, the history of the Chicago White Sox summed up in 90 seconds (Shoeless Joe, Disco Demolition Night, the end) in a way that might’ve been amusing to persons who fondly remember the Fox ‘Bots (ie. no one on earth) — that I really understand what it meant to insult someone’s intelligence.

Other than that, Jeannie and K-Squared are in rare form. The former would like us to know that she “really feels good” for the Killer B’s (that’s a load off my mind), the latter has apparently consumed 20 or 30 cups of coffee today and has never been less coherent in front of a microphone — a staggering achievment, given his body of work for Fox and XM this past season.

Such broadcasting heights have already been scaled mind, nearly 2 hours before that great patriot Liz Phair — truly the modern incarnation of Kate Smith, give or take a few hundred pounds — sings “God Bless America”. If you think Liz’s version of song is a little too slick, please, give it a rest. Much as you want to hear her old renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner”, “Stars & Stripes Forever”, “America The Beautiful” and “The Ballad Of The Green Beret” as they were played and recorded with Brad Wood back in the go-go ’90′s, it’s just not gonna happen. A real artist can’t let their work stagnate.

(this is what Will Leitch would call a pop culture reference)

I’m not all about dissing the hard working men and women of the Fox network, however. For instance, I am reasonably certain that no matter what happens during this World Series, at no point will Joe Buck ever cut from the action on the field to introduce members of the cast from “Skin” sitting in the front row.

I still have high hopes for Leon presenting the World Series Trophy to the owner and manager of the winning club, though. A guy can dream.

Rogers : Bagwell At DH Is A Mistake

Posted in Baseball at 1:49 pm by

The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers submits that all sentiment aside, Houston should forget about allowing Jeff Bagwell to make his long awaited appearance in The Fall Classic.

“The adrenaline is enough as it is,” Bagwell said. “I can play DH.”

Sure he can. So could Gary Gaetti, the Astros’ hitting coach. But neither Bagwell nor Gaetti is the bat that Houston needs in the lineup”not against right-hander Jose Contreras in Game 1 and probably not even against lefty Mark Buehrle in Game 2.

The truth is this: Bagwell (above) finds himself with an incredibly emotional dilemma. He’s a player who has always done things the right way, and the right thing now for his team is the wrong thing for him.

Bagwell needs to go to Garner and tell him that he’s given it a lot of thought and the right thing is to play someone else, most likely the dangerous Mike Lamb.

If Garner starts this version of Bagwell, one held together by grit and anti-inflammatory medicine, he will be doing the White Sox a huge favor. And Garner is going to have a hard time dealing with the repercussions if Bagwell wants to play and he doesn’t play him.

If you haven’t been watching, it’s hard to believe, but the Astros’ best lineup right now does not include Bagwell. Like the White Sox’s Frank Thomas (born on May 27, 1968, the same day as Bagwell), he’s a borderline Hall of Famer whose body is failing him.

For Thomas, there was no decision to make. He hurried to come back from the stress fracture in his left ankle by June and lasted only until July 20, when a new fracture was discovered in the ankle.

Scouts believe the Astros will be making a mistake if Garner allows sentiment to dictate his using the diminished Bagwell as his DH. The better idea, a number of them agree, is to use that spot”at least against right-handers”to start Lamb (6-for-22 with two home runs and a double in the playoffs) without moving Lance Berkman from first base to left field.

Mum’s The Word For Marlins On Delgado

Posted in Baseball at 1:31 pm by

Despite agent David Sloane, fired recently by Mike Timlin, having burned a bridge with Omar Minaya, there’s still a chance, however remote, for the Mets to obtain Carlos Delgado. From the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi.

Manager Joe Girardi has a good idea of what next season’s Marlins roster will look like. But Girardi, following the lead of Florida’s front office, isn’t elaborating on whether slugger Carlos Delgado (above) will return.

Delgado’s agent, David Sloane, said he spoke with Assistant General Manager Mike Hill on Wednesday but got no direction on his client’s future..

“I had other issues to discuss about other (minor-league) clients of mine,” he said. “In the course of our conversation, I asked if there was anything new with Carlos, and I was told there was nothing new.”

Delgado said he was told by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in September to ignore reports about speculation he could be traded because, he said, Loria told him he would not be traded.

But no one in the front office ” not Loria and not General Manager Larry Beinfest ” has publicly said Delgado will return.

“However, at this point we are going on the basis of what (Marlins owner) Jeffrey Loria told Carlos in Houston (in September), specifically that he wasn’t going to be traded. If we can’t take Jeffrey’s word, nothing else matters because he’s the one who calls the shots.”

Delgado hit 33 home runs in 2005, tying Cabrera for the team lead, and batted.301 with 115 RBI. But he is due $13.5 million in 2006 ” $9.5 million more than he made in 2005, which was the first year of a 4-year deal worth $52 million that he signed in January.

Florida’s silence on Delgado’s future only leads to speculation that the slugger will be shopped this winter as the Marlins look for ways to cut costs in the face of financial problems.

The Marlins could be looking at dumping Delgado’s contract so they can try to sign Willis and Beckett to long-term contracts. Both pitchers are eligible for arbitration this winter.

Rooney’s Final Week With The White Sox

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 1:23 pm by

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Andrew Hermann on White Sox play-by-play man John Rooney, now in the final week of his employ with the ballclub.

Though Rooney’s salary is reportedly at the center of the breakup, Rooney will only say, “Things just didn’t work out, and I’m going to leave it at that.” The team broadcasts are switching from WMVP to WSCR next year.

Some fans are outraged. On a Sox blog, one e-mailer calls Rooney (abvoe) “that tenth man, the fan in the lucky seat.” Another frets that Rooney will end up on the wrong side of town: “The Cubs will offer him what he’s worth. After 5 minutes in the booth at Wrigley, he’ll become a national legend.”

Rooney’s melodious and sometimes gently humorous descriptions of the South Siders became the sound of summer for many Sox fans starting in 1988. For years, he’s also called games for network radio in addition to his Sox duties — he estimates he’s broadcast “nine or 10″ World Series before.

His home-run call — “That’s a goner!” — was inspired when a drunken driver nearly caused him and his mother to crash near his hometown in the Kansas City area. “Mom looked at me and said, ‘We were about three seconds away from being a goner.’ That kind of stuck,” Rooney said.

Highlights? Rooney cites Carlton Fisk’s breaking the record for home runs by a catcher and Bobby Thigpen’s setting the saves record with 57, both in 1990 — “a wonderfully surprising season.” Jack McDowell winning the Cy Young award in 1992 and Bo Jackson’s home run to wrap up the 1993 Western Division title were special, too. “There are so many [memories],” Rooney said.

UT vs. TT : Mutual Admiration Society Run Amuck

Posted in Gridiron at 12:34 pm by

If you’re hurting for some pregame smack (ouch) before No. 2 Texas takes on No. 10 Texas Tech this afternoon, you’re shit out of luck writes the Dallas Morning News’ Chip Brown.

Last year, Tech was a popular choice to knock off Texas in Lubbock, after the Red Raiders trounced Nebraska, 70-10. The Longhorns were coming off an unimpressive 28-20 victory over Missouri in which Young again was replaced by Mock.

The Longhorns, however, throttled Tech, 51-21, in what was Young’s coming-out party as the quarterback he has become today.

“That was the first game where I got to be me,” said Young, referring to a meeting he had with Brown that week. In the meeting, Young asked Brown to run more plays that he preferred in the offense and for permission to unleash his personality around his teammates.

“Vince has been a different player since,” Brown said.

Last year, Young also had the benefit of bulletin board motivation provided by the Red Raiders. Not this year. Leach muzzled his players after last year’s loss to Texas, allowing only two players to talk to the media during the week “ a policy that is still in place.

So instead of pregame trash talk, there was only glowing praise from both sides this year.

Asked if Texas could shut out Tech’s offense, which leads the nation in passing and scoring, UT safety Michael Griffin said, “I can’t imagine it. I believe they’re going to put points on the board.”

Said Texas Tech defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich, a coach for 27 years, including stints as an assistant at California and Arizona State: “I think Texas is the most talented team I’ve seen in coaching,” he told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I think they’re more talented than Oklahoma the last two years.

“I’ve played [Southern Cal] and Ohio State, and I think [the Longhorns] are the most talented team I’ve ever seen. I think Vince Young is the best big athlete that I’ve ever seen in college.”

With all due respect to Setencich and Young, how can the Tech assistant so easily forget the exploits of Michigan’s Rick Steiner (shown above, left, with Varsity Club cohorts Kevin Sullivan and Mike Rotunda)?

As your intrepid reporter will be covering today’s Longhorns/Red Raiders battle for Big 12 supremacy, a potentially more entertaining contest in ‘Bama/Tennessee will be unfolding on screens big and small throughout the South. Darrell K. Royal Stadium regulations prevent me from bringing a television and satellite dish into the buidling today, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a little draconian in this day and age.

Mr. October’s Lame Surprise

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 10:52 am by

Writes Repoz,

The attached video in this press release is one fine example of unintentional-tentional humor fukkos ever…wadda L.A. putz.

I’m sure Joan Crawford is pleased with….TROG!

Burley Bails On SPL-Leading Hearts

Posted in Football at 10:39 am by

Once you get past the shock of neither Rangers or Celtic being at the top of the SPL table, try this one on for size : former Ipswich and Derby manager George Burley (above) has resigned from league leading Hearts Of Midlothian in the midst of a 10 game unbeaten streak.

Blackburn defeated Birmingham in the Premiership’s early game today, 2-0 on goals from Paul Dickov and the Alan Shearer-baiting substitute Craig Bellamy. Birmingham are now in 18th place with a mere 6 points in their first 9 matches.

This afternoon at Loftus Road, First half goals from Marc Nygard, Paul Furlong and Georges Santos have QPR comfortably ahead of Norwich (sorry, Wisdom Weasel), 3-0 the score at intermission.

Roger Clemens can see a perfect game wiped out by drilling Carl Everett for crowding the plate. Vince Young can throw himself an 80 yard TD pass against Texas Tech. Unless one or both of these events occur, you’ll see no hotter highlight late this evening than Jermaine Jenas’ astonishing free-kick equalizer for Spurs against Manchester United this afternoon.

AJ Buries Giants…

Posted in Baseball at 10:05 am by

….though when he wasn’t kicking trainers in the nuts, apparently he got along with most of them. From the SF Chronicle’s John Shea and Bruce Jenkins.

A.J. Pierzynski digs the White Sox a lot more than he dug the Giants.

“It’s totally different. It’s fun,” the Chicago catcher said on the eve of the World Series. “It’s enjoyable to come here every day and see these guys and be around them.”

A far different feeling than he had last year in San Francisco. Pierzynski admitted Friday that he was distracted on the field because of what happened off the field. He hit .181 over his final 35 games in 2004.

“Let me ask you,” he said. “When you take the field at home and the stadium’s booing you, and people are saying stuff behind your back, and every day you have to answer questions about it, would it affect you? It wears on you after awhile. I was doing pretty well, and in August or September it caught up to me. I was mentally exhausted having to defend myself every day I walked into the clubhouse.”

The off-field distractions started, he said, before the season. He went to arbitration, and the arbiter ruled in his favor (a $3.5 million salary) rather than the Giants’ ($2.25 million).

“Brian Sabean promised me if I went to arbitration, I wouldn’t be back the next year,” Pierzynski (above) said. “So I knew in January I wouldn’t be back. Makes you an easy target, I know that.”

One month into the season, teammates anonymously criticized Pierzynski in an Oakland Tribune report.

“Contrary to what people believe, I actually got along with a lot of the guys there,” Pierzynski said. “The one guy (he was referring to Brett Tomko, who was quoted in the story), I had a problem with. But other than that, I got along with a lot of guys great. It was a bad time for me because of what happened with (Tomko). The other guy (Matt Herges, who also was quoted) came up to me and apologized, and I respect him a whole lot more for doing that than (Tomko).”

In a recent interview on a national talk show, Pierzynski spoke of escaping from “Aloucatraz.” Asked Friday about his former manager, Felipe Alou, he said, “I didn’t have a problem with Felipe. He just never said anything. He was in his own little world.”

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, Pierzynski said, is a “total polar opposite. Ozzie’s in here every day and easy to talk to. He rags on you when you do something stupid, and you can rag on him. It’s a good relationship with all the players. He tells you where you stand. That’s the biggest thing. You don’t want someone who tells the media. Tell me to my face, and we’ll work on it.”

Kallman On The Mannyheim Angels

Posted in Baseball at 2:33 am by

From The Catbird In The Nosebleed Seats’ Jeff Kallman,

The word from Peter Gammons of ESPN: Manny Ramirez may want to let the Los Angeles Angels let Manny be Manny. The question before the house: Since there is a different between a gang of Idiots and an idiot idiot, precisely how long do Angel fans drooling over the prospect of Manny Being Manny in the House That Scioscia Rebuilt really believe Ramirez would last, once Scioscia gets a gander at his act up close and personal and not just through what he sees in the papers or hears through the walls when the Angels play the Red Sox? (And was that not a long sigh of loving relief from New York Met fans upon the news that Manny Doesn™t Want to Be Manny at Shea, in the House That Pedro Is Trying To Rebuild?)

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out that “for the first time since 1991, neither World Series participant will be a top-10 payroll team.”

The Astros had the game’s 12th-highest Opening Day payroll, $76.8 million. The White Sox were 13th at $75.2 million.

The Angels and Cardinals, losers of their respective League Championship Series, ranked fifth and sixth, respectively.

The Yankees and Red Sox, of course, were 1-2.


What John Morton Was To X Blank X…

Posted in Hockey at 11:41 pm by

….Jason Cohen is to picking out embarrassing items composed by NHL hockey maven John Buccigross.

The NHL is once again a young man’s game. It is speed and skating, and I wanted to see if for myself. So, I took Ween guitarist Mickey Melchiondo’s invitation to sit with him during a Penguins-Flyers game, and his season tickets are five rows from the ice.

As a thank-you to Mickey, I contacted the Flyers’ manager of game operations, Michael Wurman, and asked whether he would play the Ween song “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night” at some point. Sure enough, during the first intermission, the song came on, and Mickey, as laid-back as he is, was visibly touched.

Wrighty All Right In Rubbish Rap, Henry On Henry

Posted in Football at 11:14 pm by

Saturday’s Mirror reports that Arsenal’s all-time 2nd leading scorer (and the worst chat show host this side of Magic Johnson) Ian Wright has put a legal nightmare behind him.

Ex-England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright has been cleared of being a litter lout.

The former soccer ace, 42, was due to face a £5,000-a-day trial next week accused of throwing a paper cup out of the window of his Bentley.

He denied the offence, alleged to have been committed in Lewisham, South East London, on May 18 last year.

Lewisham council said: “At Greenwich magistrates court this week someone said they were responsible and paid a £50 fine, clearing the car owner.

The Telegraph’s Henry Winter pays to Wright’s successor at Highbury, French striker Thierry Henry, who scored both Arsenal goals in a mid-week Champions League visit to Sparta Prague.

Among the welcoming gifts Thierry Henry received on arriving at Highbury in 1999 was a tape from the vice-chairman, David Dein. It was a compilation of Ian Wright’s penalty-box pyrotechnics for Arsenal, a high-speed montage of bamboozled centre-halves, humiliated goalkeepers and Wright’s unrestrained celebrations. “This is what you have to do,” Dein smiled at Henry. No pressure.

Henry (above) took the tape home and watched it that evening. Two nights later he sat through it again, admiring the inimitable Wright’s ruthless and relentless haul of goals. “I never thought then that I would break Wrighty’s record,” said Henry yesterday, three days after passing Wright’s landmark of 185 goals.

For a while, the Arsenal faithful worried whether Henry would even get off the mark. Better known as a left-winger, the Juventus discard initially struggled to adapt when re-positioned by Arsene Wenger as a centre-forward, requiring nine games to break his duck. “At the beginning I felt I was more likely to break the clock at Highbury than the record of Wrighty,” Henry reflected.

Amid the many paeans this week, the Henry/Wright comparison needs placing in perspective. The Englishman, a natural finisher, was essentially selfish, living to score. The Frenchman is almost obsessive about the primacy of the team over self. “Apart from Diego Maradona, I never saw anyone winning a game on his own,” Henry said.

“Marco van Basten was my idol, but before he arrived at AC Milan, they were a great team. He left, and they were still a great team. Without my team, I’m no one. I finish the job of the team. I have to thank Bergkamp, Overmars, Manu Petit, Wiltord, and Kanu.”

Ensconced at the top of the Championship, Sheffield Wednesday manager Neil Warnock writes in Saturday’s Independent that he’s not a viable candidate for next England manager.

One paper suggested “Warnock for England” last week after the way we played at Millwall. I don’t think so. I went to see England Under-21s play Poland at Hillsbrough the other week.

They passed the ball 15 times before reaching halfway. I could never manage an international team doing it that way. I just couldn’t get excited. It was a great result for their coach Peter Taylor but I kept thinking, “Thank God it’s on a Tuesday, not a Monday or Wednesday. I’d hate to miss Coronation Street for this.”

Dave D’Allessandro And Today’s Hitmakers

Posted in Basketball at 8:39 pm by

We’re two weeks away from the start of the New Jersey Nets’ 2005-2006 season and for the Newark Star Ledger’s Dave D’Allessandro, said tip-off can’t come soon enough, apparently.

It™s official: Vince Carter is a Jersey Guy. It has nothing to do with home ownership “ any carpetbagger can buy a house. He has become embraced by the Candlewyck Diner (just off Rt. 17, on the East Rutherford/Carlstadt border), which has honored his frequent visits by naming a wrap for him. Grilled chicken, we™re told. Try not to share that last bit of information with sarcastic Ontarians.

The Nets want you to know that Rihanna will perform at halftime of the opener next Wednesday (the opener, Bucks), and then Amerie on the following Saturday (Bulls). If we knew anything about either person — including gender — we™d say more. Full disclosure: What we know about modern music and popular culture can fit inside the average thimble, so if you have something educational to share along those lines, take your best shot.

(Amerie. Presumably a girl, though as the millions of Juwana Mann fans can attest, it never hurts to double check).

The NBDL – It’s “Don’t Send Me There”-tastic!

Posted in Basketball at 7:34 pm by

Friday’s papers are filled with stories of clubs and/or players less than sold on the NBDL as a proving ground for fledgling NBA talent. Por ejemplo,

Mike Dunleavy is reluctant to send rookie F Yaroslav Korolev (above) to the Austin Toros, nor is Dunleavy psyched about sending any of the younger clippers to CSTB’s ‘hood.

Warriors coach Mike Montgomery has expressed similar skepticism, prefering to keep rookie Chris Taft closer to home.

Utah rookie SG C.J. Miles has described an assignment to the NBDL’s Albuquerque Thunderbirds as “not an option”.

That said, there’s no reason to panic. Just as soon as David Stern circulates a memo around the league assuring all parties that Isiah Thomas has absolutely nothing to do with the management of the Development League, players and coaches will soon come around.

Scaffolding Collapses At Fenway

Posted in Baseball at 6:24 pm by

How many more hours must the baseball / science fiction / Mission Of Burma fans of New England wait until Red Sox management assures us that Eric Van was unhurt?

Raissman, Sandomir On Crap Ratings For The World Series

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 12:55 pm by

Despite a compelling combo of two clubs with no recent World Series history, many industry pundits are predicting miserable ratings for the Astros/White Sox World Series, the NY Daily News’ Bob Raissman amongst them.

Right now, by the Foxies’ own devices, more of America knows about next month’s season premiere of “That ’70s Show” than it does about tomorrow’s Game No. 1.

“I think Game 1 of this World Series – if you go back three years or four years – will do better (ratings wise) than we did back then,” Ed Goren, Fox Sports president, said yesterday. “I think (in terms of ratings) this World Series will hold up extremely well.”

No matter how anyone tries spinning, er, analyzing it, MLB’s establishment knows the casual fan, the one needed to drive ratings into the promised land, does not see Astros-White Sox as a glamour matchup. So, on a Saturday night in October, many of these valuable viewers may opt for a night on the town rather than a night in front of the tube watching a baseball game.

That would mean the beginning of a ratings descent into the toilet for Fox’s World Series presentation.

Not so privately, the suits will admit they would rather have more of a marquee matchup. One that packs a ratings punch. The air went out of some programmers’ balloons after the White Sox punctured Boston. And when the Yankees went down to the Angels, boxes of Kleenex likely were passed around the Foxies’ Hollywood bunker.

If Fox and MLB suits want Houston-Chicago to approach the healthy 15.8 rating last season’s Red Sox-Cardinals Series averaged they’d better roll up their sleeves and, over the course of the next 72 hours, remind America how much juice the 2005 World Series has. Now is the time for some urgency. Commercials are not enough. Fox should mobilize all its assets.

When you turn on Fox News Channel, do you see any World Series panel discussions? And how come MLB does not already have a small army of MLB stars – past and present – promoting the Series matchup on talk radio, early and late-night TV gabfests, MTV and various regional sports networks? Both the NBA and NFL have this strategy down to a science.

Writes the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir,

It is Fox’s job to ignore ratings doubts and look on the bright side. Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, said yesterday during a conference call, “We keep saying the White Sox are this year’s version of the Red Sox, minus the sexy curse.”

Sexy curses make for lovely albatrosses, especially if you’re shedding an 86-year-old one. Last year, the Red Sox’ sweep of the Cardinals produced an average of 25.5 million viewers a game, the most for a World Series since 1999.

Whatever has kept the White Sox from winning the World Series since 1917 will not be dwelt upon. The Foxians insist that they will stay largely in the present and not reminisce about 1959, or the 1919 Black Sox scandal, but, as the Fox announcer Joe Buck suggested, the network could still make use of the cast of “Eight Men Out”.

That’s a great idea. Who amongst us isn’t dying to find out what D.B. Sweeney has been up to?

“Cold Pizza” – Unwatchable TV, Source Of Microbes Or Both?

Posted in Sports TV, Will Leitch Sucks at 12:47 pm by

As both Will Leitch and New York Magazine have acknowledged Woody Paige’s Appetite For Alpo recently, I do have to wonder which is more pathetic, someone being paid to eat dog food on television , or anyone who openly admits to having watched “Cold Pizza” without a gun to their head? Said infotainment spectacle was shot here in Austin this morning, and needless to say, if I’m not willing to watch this monstrosity on television, I’m certainly not gonna get out of bed to see it in person.

I can, however, confirm that Leitch’s claims that “Quite Frankly” is absolutely desperate to fill the studio audience, are for once, entirely accurate. On a stroll in and around the MSG/Pennsylvania Station area yesterday morning, I was accosted no fewer than 3 times by young women offering tickets to the “Quite Frankly” tapings. On one such occasion, the gal pitching the tickets for Stephen A. was blocking my view of a group of Falun Gong protestors, some of whom were re-enacting the sort of torture their comrades had suffered at the hands of the Chinese government.

It does seem a shame that these two worthy causes — Falun Gong’s explicit street theatre and Stephen A. Smith’s struggles to become a chat show superstar — cannot be combined in some way.

Mushnick Loves The Dress Code, Hates The Hypocrisy

Posted in Basketball, Fashion, Sports Journalism at 11:54 am by

For David Stern to have established a dress code isn’t nearly enough for Phil Mushnick. The New York Post columnist would like the commish to hop in a time machine and stop make the uniforms spiffier, too.

Let’s see if we’ve got this straight. David Stern for years allowed, if not encouraged, NBA teams to cash in on the latest prison- and gang-established fashions by changing their logos, uniform colors, even the look of their warm-ups.

How eager was the NBA for its cut of the gang-wear trade? The Philadelphia franchise, nicknamed the 76ers and a team that naturally dressed in red, white and blue uniforms to reflect the city’s birthplace-of-the-nation heritage, switched to mostly black.

And now that Stern recognizes that NBAers are showing up to speak at schools and in airports and for TV interviews looking like recruitment officers for the Bloods and Crips, he’s pushing a more civil dress code.

Y’know, a lot of people like the color black. In their wardrobe, I mean. Johnny Cash, for instance. Did Johnny Cash resemble a recruitment officer for the Bloods and Crips? Are caucasian slobs Steve Nash and Mark Cuban guilty of pushing “gang-wear”? Why is a grown man like Phil so easily intimidated? And seemingly more intimidated by black people?

I eagerly await a News Corp. edict against beards. Phil’s is not merely an eyesore, but a public health hazard as well. God forbid he shows up at a school, looking like Grizzly Adams (or worse, Phil Knight).

Manny : “No Desire” For Mets Move

Posted in Baseball at 11:44 am by

I suppose building a secret hatch underneath the Pepsi Picnic Area, ala “Lost” is out of the question? Seriously, if one of the game’s greatest hitters refuses to consider a trade to the Mets, there are ways of addressing the situation.

From the NY Daily News’ Adam Rubin.

Met fans can cross Manny Ramirez off their offseason wish list. It appears he has done the same to the Mets.

Ramirez has no desire to play in Flushing, even if it would mean reuniting with ex-teammate Pedro Martinez, his agent said.

Greg Genske, who represents the Red Sox slugger, made that revelation in an ESPN.com report posted last night.

“I know people have speculated about Pedro and his influence, but Manny does not want to be traded to the Mets,” Genske told the Web site.

Ramirez, having played five years for the Red Sox and with 10 years of major-league service, has earned the right to veto any trade. Genske indicated Ramirez has yet to request a trade anyway, but the slugger would prefer being dealt to the Indians – his former club – or the Angels if he does ask out. Genske plans to meet with Red Sox owner John Henry in Florida next week.

Lightning Coach Decries Goonery, Disses ECHL

Posted in Hockey at 11:31 am by

(The Trashers’ Braydon Coburn, tired of all the skateboard jokes, delivers a blow to the Lightning’s Martin St. Louis)

Tampa’s Paul Ranger caught an elbow to the kisser in the waning moments of the Lightning’s 6-0 win at Atlanta and had to be helped off the ice. The South Florida Sun Sentinel on John Tortorella’s post-game comments.

Atlanta has lost four consecutive games by a combined score of 22-2, but the angriest coach after the game was Tampa Bay’s John Tortorella.

He directed an expletive-filled tirade at Eric Boulton, who took out Paul Ranger of the Lightning with a flagrant elbow just 21/2 minutes from the end of the rout.

“The … guy should be playing in the … East Coast Hockey League, but instead he takes out a … NHLer,” Tortorella said. “He’ll be suspended, but who … cares? No one wants to see him on the ice anyway.”

Atlanta’s Bob Hartley was seen going into Tortorella’s office after the game, but the Tampa Bay coach wouldn’t say what they discussed.

“None of your business,” Tortorella said, before storming away to the team bus.

Ugly stuff to be sure, but Tortorella will be pleased to know that tonight, the very respectable CHL’s 2005-2006 campaign kicks off with the start of a home and home duet between the Austin Ice Bats and Corpus Christi Rayz. The rosters of both teams are packed with potential Lady Bing Trophy winners, so much so that I’m surprised both clubs aren’t offering a refund if there’s any bloodshed.